Winter Abundance in a Food Forest

Aloha Friends,

 

Wintertime doesn’t stop the food forest from richly producing abundance! 

The great freedom of having a forest-style garden is how easy it is to get an abundant harvest!

Here’s a list of  the “work” we have done this winter:

Please note:  This “work” can also be thought of as fun, good exercise, an opportunity to enjoy being in nature, and an opportunity to create a healthy oasis for life!

Broadcast last summer’s seeds onto the forest floor before a rainstorm – easy!   Stroll through the garden with a bag of seeds in hand, sprinkling them onto the mulch as you go, then let the rain wash the seeds down through the  mulch where they will germinate when the weather warms up.

Prune the pecan and almond trees to keep them shorter so we can easily harvest from them next year –  top pruning takes about 1 hour per tree at most, and if you do it every winter, the tree begins to take the shape you want – we like umbrella shapes, so we prune off the branches that are growing up too tall for us to reach.   Here’s a link to our post about why we prune in winter:

How Winter pruning increases our harvests

 

Chip the pruned branches into mulch, which we spread on the forest floor – Easy with our new Patriot electric chipper

 Create a hugelkultur from the larger pruned branches. Easy – here’s a link showing how it’s done…

How and Why to create your own Hugelkultur from pruned branches!

A bit of mowing our pathways.

And a whole lot of harvesting!!!

Other than that, THE FOOD FOREST GROWS BY ITSELF – check it out…

ONIONS AND GARLIC

The delicious green garlic tops and onion tops are in season now.  The roots will survive a frost, especially when covered with mulch so the soil doesn’t freeze.

 

 

Onion and garlic plants look like tall grasses
Onion and garlic plants look like tall grasses – note the ground is covered by mulch

 

Garlic growing around the perimeter of a fruit tree - it gets sun in winter and improves the soil surrounding the tree.
Garlic growing around the perimeter of a fruit tree – it gets the sunshine in winter and improves the soil surrounding the tree.

 

A A A A single clove of garlic will multiply into a whole bulb of garlic in 1 year.

1 year old Garlic, harvested in late summer. These bulbs each grew from a single clove.
1-year-old Garlic, harvested in late summer. These bulbs each grew from a single clove.

 

This is the flower of the onion - it's a whole ball of individual flowers, and each flower has little black onion seeds inside of it
This is a flower from an onion that grew last .  It’s a ball of small individual flowers, and each flower has little black onion seeds inside of it.


 

Onion seeds that fell to the ground last summer are this year's new onions!
Onion seeds that fell to the ground last summer are this year’s new onions! They look like tall thin grass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EUGENIA CHERRIES

We enjoy eating these gorgeous purple cherries, seeds and all, either fresh from the bushy trees, added to oatmeal for breakfast, or dehydrated as snacks.  The turkeys love eating them too.  Every winter they produce abundantly – with no effort from us.

Eugenia Cherries are delicious and abundant in winter
Eugenia Cherries are delicious and abundant in winter

 

Use like cranberries in sauces or relishes or dry them for snacking. Delicious!
Use like cranberries in sauces or relishes or dry them for snacking. Delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aloha Farms food forest dried Eugenia Cherries, February 2017
Aloha Farms food forest dried Eugenia Cherries, February 2017

 

LEMONS, ORANGES, AND TANGERINES

These trees are worth planting if they grow in your area, because they produce useful delicious fruit for decades!  Plant them now and your grandchildren will thank you later 🙂

Aloha Farms Navel Orange Tree in February 2017
Navel Orange Tree in February 2017 You can tell by the trunk that this tree is very old, yet it still produces incredibly sweet and delicious oranges, year after year.
Aloha Farms food forest Lemon Tree in February 2017
Lemon Tree in February 2017 – This tree is over 40 years old – and it’s now healthier than it was 5 years ago!  Imagine, 40 years of lemons, in exchange for planting 1 lemon tree!!!

 

Aloha Farms food forest Tangerine Tree in February 2017
Tangerine Tree in February 2017  producing more heavily each year!
Aloha Farms food forest Valencia Orange Tree in February 2017
Valencia Orange Tree in February 2017 This is featured in our video (below) about increasing vigor in older fruit trees, and produces fruit year-round!!!

MACADAMIA NUTS

Each January, these trees produce a large crop, and smaller crops throughout the year.

Aloha Farms food forest Macadamia nuts in Shell - This crop has thin shells and are coming off the tree already split
Macadamia nuts in Shell – This crop has thin shells and are coming off the tree already split.  These have been soaked in saltwater and dried.
Aloha Farms food forest Macadamia Nuts February 2017 - a small portion of our harvest this year
Macadamia Nuts Drying February 2017 – a small portion of our harvest this year.  (with and without their shells).
The Macadamia tree is forming flower tassels for the next crop, while we are still harvesting this winter's crop!
Macadamia tree is forming flower tassels for the next crop, while we are still harvesting this winter’s crop!  The abundance doesn’t stop in a food forest!

 

The macadamia tassels have just begun to show their form. Cute!
The macadamia tassels have just begun to show their form. Cute!

 

Aloha Farms food forest Macadamia Tree in January 2017
Macadamia Tree in January 2017-  Healthier after a pruning and producing more than last year!

For more on Macadamia Nuts, please see our post from 2016:

How we process the Macadamia Harvests

GUAVAS

These tropical fruits grow safely here in a warm micro-climate at the edge of the oak tree.  

Aloha Farms food forest white guava tree in 2017 - with ripe guavas
White guava tree in 2017 – with ripe guavas

 

KALE

 

Aloha Farms food forest Kale in February 2017
Kale in February 2017 – There’s kale available year round

ARUGULA

Aloha Farms food forest Arugula in February 2017 - growing from last year's seed
Arugula in February 2017 – growing from last year’s seed. It spreads its own seeds,  growing with no effort from us other than harvest and prune. Last year, we made spicy mustard from the arugula seeds too!

LETTUCE

Aloha Farms food forest Romaine Lettuce growing from seed February 2017 - growing near Carrots, Clover and other Volunteers
Romaine Lettuce growing from seed February 2017 – growing near Carrots, Clover and other Volunteers

 

HERBS

Fennel, Parsley, Thyme, Mint, Sour Grass, Oregano, Stinging Nettle, Calendula and more can be found throughout the food forest.

 

Aloha Farms food forest Rosemary and Lavender - Some of the many herbs growing in February 2017
Rosemary and Lavender, Calendula and Nasturtium – Some of the many herbs growing in February 2017
Aloha Farms Food Forest Mint Growing in February 2017
Mint Growing in February 2017

 

 

Aloha Farms food forest Parsley growing from seed, February 2017
Parsley growing from seed, February 2017

 

Aloha Farms food forest Fennels and Stinging Nettles growing from seed February 2017
Fennel and Stinging Nettles growing from last year’s seed – along with other volunteers – in February 2017

 

Aloha Farms food forest Calendula and Lettuce growing along with other Volunteers in February 2017
Calendula and Lettuce growing along with other Volunteers in February 2017

 

Aloha Farms food forest Chamomile growing in February 2017
Chamomile growing in February 2017

TOMATOES!

Aloha Farms food forest tomatoes still ripening in February 2017
Tomatoes still ripening in February 2017

Here are some things that are not quite ripe yet, but growing:

 

COFFEE

Aloha Farms food forest coffee ripening in February 2017
Aloha Farms food forest coffee ripening in February 2017

 

PASSION FRUIT

Aloha Farms food forest Passion Vine in February 2017 - here comes the fruit!
Aloha Farms food forest Passion Vine in February 2017 – here comes the fruit!

 

Even now in winter, the forest is lushly abundant with food for us and for the animals that make it their home – and it’s so easy – we just go out and pick what we want!!!

We hope you try growing a food forest of your own, and it brings you

Peace,  Abundance, and Aloha 🙂

Aloha Farms food forest Logo Roots Grow Fruits!
Roots Grow Fruits!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

5 Tips for Increasing Fruit Tree Vigor and Production

Aloha Everyone,

Here’s a video that we put together to show you how we brought vigorous health to some very old, neglected fruit trees that were here on the land when we arrived.

Please watch this video for our 5 tips that will help you bring health to a fruit tree near you!

 

 

Alternately, here’s the text from this video, so you may read the information if you like.

 

Aloha Everyone,
This is Elizabeth with Aloha Farms food forest in sunny Southern California, where we  enjoy growing citrus fruit year-round.  The 5 decades-old trees that were here when we moved in hadn’t been cared for in a while, but we found that with a little TLC, we were able to bring them back to outstanding health and they now produce some of the juiciest, most delicious fruit I’ve ever had.
Healthy trees are less likely to attract harmful pests.  Our beautiful citrus trees were recently tested by the County of San Diego Department of Agriculture, when they placed traps in the trees for 6 weeks during January and February 2016 to see if they could trap exotic fruit flies, asian citrus psyllids, and other unwanted pests.  They found that our trees had no pests – which is really great news.
Here are 4 things we did to improve the health of the dear old citrus trees:
1. Pruning – cut off dead or dying branches and stems, remove leaves or stems that are infested with bugs like scale or white fly, remove new growth from the interior of the tree to improve air circulation.  These “Water Sprouts” grow vertically from lateral branches and can be removed entirely or pruned above a node to re-direct their growth.
2. Cover the soil under the tree in organic material, which feeds and protects the life-forms that grow in the soil allowing them to proliferate safely under the covering. This also moderates the soil temperature so that it doesn’t get too hot or too cold, and finally, helps retain the soil moisture by preventing it from evaporating.
3. Sprinkle the soil with epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) before a rain so that  the rain will wash it into the soil.  This really invigorates the trees.
4.  Insert into the ground under the tree a 2′ – 3′ piece of ABS pipe or other pipe that’s 2″-3″ in diameter, leaving 2″ or so above the soil level.  This will be your watering pipe, so you can water directly into the pipe with a hose, and the water will go right down to the roots.  Before we installed our watering pipes, we could water for an hour on top of the soil, and it wouldn’t penetrate deeply into the root zone, so we definitely found this to be a tremendous improvement.  We can fill the pipe a few times, and we have deep water penetration of the root zone.
5.  This last tip I discovered, and it works well against flying insects that love to feed on new leaf growth.  During periods of rapid new leaf growth, if the weather is dry, come out in the late afternoon/early evening and shower off the trees’ foliage with water from a hose.  Whatever flying insects are on the tree will instantly fly away to go find drier places.  I do this in the early evening so that the water won’t quickly evaporate from the leaves and the insects will stay away while the leaves are wet – and hopefully decide not to come back!  This also washes off dust and the trees seem to enjoy a good shower – just like we do 🙂
That’s it for now – I hope this information helps any of you who are growing fruit!  Thank you for watching, and Aloha!!!

How we saved our oranges from splitting open before ripening – and you can too!

More on the value of Epsom salt:

We don’t have any “before” pictures of our old orange tree with the hanging fruit all split open and inedible.  Funny, I never thought pictures of these ugly fruits would come in handy for a post one day!   If you want to see how they look, you can search for “split oranges on tree” images online to find lots of shots of oranges with the rinds splitting open.  It’s a common problem.

After researching on the mighty internet and reading multiple websites about why oranges split, we find many theories:

  1. Tree too young – nope – our tree is probably over 30 years old with a thick trunk.
  2. Too many fruits – nope – it didn’t have all that much fruit.
  3. Inconsistent watering – nope – we deep watered it and kept it evenly moist for about six months, but the fruits still split and still you couldn’t squeeze a drop of juice from these dry oranges.
  4. Mineral deficiency… nope – We had recently fertilized with a citrus fertilizer and added an extra layer of mulch under the tree canopy.
  5. Hmmm….

Then suddenly inspiration came  – Epsom Salt would heal the tree!   So thankful for those moments of inspiration! Just quietly ask for an answer, and the answer will come 🙂

It’s funny I didn’t think of it sooner, because as everyone who has ever complained of a physical ailment in my presence knows, my go-to remedy is an epsom salt bath.  That and a good rest, and usually the person is much improved.

I generously sprinkled about 4 cups of Epsom salt on the ground under the large old orange tree canopy and watered it in.  Use enough Epsom salt to sprinkle under the canopy, and the very best time to sprinkle Epsom salt is before a rain event, so the rain can dissolve it and wash it into the soil.   It’s always best to use a light sprinkle and add another sprinkle later if needed so you can see how the tree reacts.  I have never had a problem using too much Epsom salt with my sprinkle method.

A bag of Epsom Salt
A bag of Epsom Salt

It seems like a miracle because in the 4 years we’ve lived here, we never had nice fruit from this tree.  We were just happy enjoying the blossoms and accepting the false belief that this tree just doesn’t produce good fruit. – LOL   Here’s how the oranges look now….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The oranges are ripening happily with no splitting after receiving their epsom salt treatment.

Here’s something just for fun…a close-up of a busy bee.

A bee visits an orange blossom on our happy orange tree
A bee visits an orange blossom on our happy orange tree – cuteness!!!

That’s it – if you have this splitting oranges problem – use Epsom salts  – and let me know if it works for you!

 

 

Ripe Oranges - they turned out so juicy and sweet
Ripe Oranges – they turned out so juicy and sweet
Roots Grow Fruits by Joe Ceraso
Roots Grow Fruits!

Aloha!